Beer Week, The Brew Off and other Successful Shenanigans

The last six weeks have been exceptionally busy.  I’m pleased to report that all our endeavors were successful both in terms of fun and funds raised.

All Teams

All the brewers and brewsters at the end of the night

The 3rd installment of the Biblical Brew Off saw our biggest crowd yet.  There is no doubt that the women of Team Eve helped to bring many of their own fans which swelled the crowd.  Those present got to sample the seven brews, dine on BBQ and bid on the silent auction while team of judges (Theresa Conroy, Danya Henninger, George Hummel and special guest Jay Brooks) ranked the offerings.

Team Jesus took back the crown but Team Eve took the People’s Choice with their Saison d’Eve.  But the real winners were the charities who split an all-time high of over $2700.

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IMAG01386Beer Week was just as fruitful.  Sarah Weissiger joined Rabbi Eli and myself at Fergie’s for the latest iteration of A Priest, a Minister and a Rabbi Walk into a Bar.  Sarah’s knowledge and humor blended perfectly.  Together we shared our thoughts and mused theological.  The crowd was wonderful and posed heartfelt questions.

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A few days later I took my first turn working behind the bar at the Old Eagle Tavern.  Lew Bryson and I poured beers for a big crowd some of whom were regulars but many of whom came out to support us and the good work of North Light Community Center.

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Note which side of the bar Lew Bryson is on and which side I was on. Thanks Nancy Rigberg for the pic!

I have to say that it’s a lot harder than it looks.  Thankfully Ryan (the regular barkeep) was a good teacher and the patrons were patient (although I was occasionally heckled for being too slow).  Between keeping orders straight in my head and dealing with foamy taps, I was ready for a beer myself by the time it was all over.  All told we raised $275 in tips and Erin kicked in another $200 from the house’s take which meant that North Light Community Center got $475!

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I know- I on the wrong side of the bar yet again but trust me I really did work hard and pour a lot of beers.

The money we raised for charity is great but what is even more important about these events is that they bring people, who otherwise might never meet, together in a way that fosters conversation and helps build common bonds.  There is real power in coming together over a beer and I am truly grateful to have friends that help me harness that power in new and creative ways.

Look out! It’s Philly Beer Week!

philly-beer-week-logo-2016Beer Week 2016 is just hours away.  As usual I won’t be able to make nearly as many events as I would like.  This is particularly true since this year we’ll be away at our 25th college reunion for the latter half of PBW.

But of course one must have their priorities. You can find me at the following:

 

A Rabbi, a Priest and a Minister Walk into a Bar                                                            Sunday, June 5th at Fergie’s (1214 Sansom St) starting at 8 pm.

Join Rabbi Eli, Pastor Sarah and yours truly as we talk about the surprising intersection of beer and faith. Bring your questions, sense of humor and a thirst to learn more about the ways in which God and beer interact to make our lives both more meaningful and enjoyable.  Event is PAYG

 

Extreme Homebrew Challenge                                                                              Monday, June 6th starting at 7 pm Jose Pistolas (263 S. 15th Street).

A staple of PBW this is the brainchild of George Hummel and Nancy Rigberg of Home Sweet Homebrew.  Some of the area’s best homebrewers put on their thinking caps and get a little crazy.  A few years ago someone thought it would be a good idea if I helped judge and I’m honored to continue to do so.  Tickets online or at the door.

 

Holy Beers with Father Kirk                                                                                         June 7th at the Old Eagle Tavern (177 Markle Street in Manayunk)

From 6 till 10 pm I’ll be guest bartending alongside my friend, fellow philanthropist and man of faith, Lew Bryson.

Erin from the Eagle has put together a very special list of beers guaranteed to give you a religious experience.  It includes the debut of “Old Fashion Gingerbread Jesus” which is a whiskey barrel aged version of the Christmastime favorite.

Other drafts include:
Mispilion Holy Crap
Mispilion Not Today Satan
Lost Abbey Devotion
Original Sin Cider
Avery Salvation

But best of all, all of our tips will stay in Manayunk and go to support  the important work of Northlight Community Center.  So come on out, let me pour you a beer and be a generous tipper!  Event is PAYG

So there you go.  Not a full week but a fun one.  Hope to see you out there and have a safe and happy PBW!

A priest, a minister and a rabbi are walking back into a bar near you!

After a grueling series of auditions that were more rigorous than American Idol and American Ninja combined, Rabbi Eli and I are pleased to announce that we will again have a Protestant minister back in our lineup.

Sarah

 

The Rev. Sarah Weisiger is the pastor of Ivyland Presbyterian Church in Bucks County.  An avid homebrewer and veteran of the Pub Theology movement, she brings a wealth of experience as well as a strong background in biblical and theological scholarship to complete this year’s lineup.

 

We hope you will join us on Sunday, June 5th at Fergies Pub.  The fun starts at 8 pm.  Please bring your questions, sense of humor and a thirst to learn more about the ways in which God and beer interact to make our lives both more meaningful and enjoyable.

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Help Wanted

So a priest, a minister and a rabbi walk into a bar….

It’s the start of many jokes and for the last three years has also been the title of our informal symposium on beer and faith.  We had every intention of bringing it back to Philly Beer Week this year but then we found  out that our compatriot and the minister in the equation, Bryan Berghoef, will be away on a pilgrimage to Iona.

Once Rabbi Eli Freedman and I got done calling him names behind his back, we set our minds to trying to find another person to take his place.  For a while it looked like we had someone lined up but unfortunately they will be away for Beer Week.

And so we turn to you, our friends and kindred spirits.  We’d love for one of you to join us this year at Fergie’s Pub as we wax poetic about beer, God and faith and the ways in which they all tie together.

Of course we have some standards.

To make sure we don’t wind up like the Mystery Men, here is what we are looking for.

The ideal candidate will:

#1 Be a person of faith

#2 Have extensive knowledge about their faith and its history

#3 Be comfortable talking to a crowd and taking questions

#4 Have a sense of humor

#5 Live in the Philly Metro area

#6 Be free on the afternoon of Sunday, June 5th

#7 Love beer (duh)

In order to broaden our perspectives special consideration will be shown to those outside the Judeo-Christian tradition and to women.

If you’re interested in exploring this further please contact me through the blog or Facebook.  We hope to hear from you!

 

The Biblical Brew Off is Back!

Team Moses and Team Jesus are back and facing off once again to see which congregation’s beer reigns supreme.  But this year they also have to reckon with the women of the newly formed Team Eve. As before, each entry will be blindly evaluated by qualified judges according to BJCP standards. The team with the highest average score will be declared the winner.  There will also be a people’s choice- each person in attendance will get to vote for their one favorite beer.

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But this is not just about bragging rights.  Each team will be competing for a charity.  Representing my parish of St. Tim’s, Team Jesus will be competing for North Light Community Center.  Team Moses from Rodeph Shalom will be competing for HAIS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society). And Team Eve, made up of women from both congregations, will be competing for the Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network.  The purse will be split with 50% going to the winner’s charity and 30% to second place and the remaining 20% to third.  That way none of these worthy causes will walk away empty handed.

It all takes place this coming Saturday, May 7th at Rodeph Shalom (615 North Broad Street).  Doors open at 7 pm.  Advance tickets are only $25 and can be purchased here. That gets you unlimited samples of the different beers, BBQ from Deke’s and a commemorative pint glass. We’ll also have custom growlers, t-shirts for each team and amazing baskets filled with beer and other goodies to bid on in a silent auction.

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The only way to win this basket filled with rare beers from Vermont is to come to the Brew Off!

We hope you will join us for what is sure to be memorable evening of friendly competition, food, fellowship and of course beer.  Best of all, every penny we net goes to benefit those who are homeless, hungry and who have had to flee from war and persecution.

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Thanks to Brian Biggs (who draws the logos) and Home Sweet Homebrew for all their support!

Breaking the Black Metal Seal

The room was a sea of black t-shirts that read “unholy” and “666” and there were more pentagrams than I could count.  Although I was there to see Myrkur, most were there to see the headliner, Behemoth, an extremely popular black metal band from Poland.IMAG01267

When it comes to what makes black metal “black” it does not get much more overt that what I saw that night.  Behemoth performed their new album, “The Satanist” in its entirety.  At one point the bassist, Orion, held a crucifix upside down over the crowd.  Later Nergal (who sings, plays guitar and is the undisputed creative force behind the band) handed out “communion” wafers that were imprinted with the band’s “unholy trinity” symbol (see below) to crazed fans in the first few rows.

behemoth

And there I was, in the front row of the balcony, trying to take it all in.

Such was my first trip to a black metal show.  Not surprisingly I was not entirely at ease with what I saw and heard.  Was my presence there inherently in conflict with my Christianity and/or my vocation as a priest?  As I have written before, this question has long vexed me.

Although I listen to a lot of dark, heavy music there have been bands that I wouldn’t listen to, not because I didn’t like their music, but because they were overtly Satanic.  But the more I thought about it, the more I began to question whether or not this divide was an artifice. After a lot of reflection, and in large part because I really wanted to see Myrkur perform her first gig in the USA, I thought it was finally time to push past those self-imposed restrictions and see how being at black metal concert made me feel.

It started with the crowd.  No one seemed particularly intent sacrificing a virgin after the show.  In fact, setting aside their appearance, most everyone I met was really nice.  It seemed that many, if not most, of the fans were there first and foremost for the music.

Of course you can find similar bands that don’t utilize satanic words and symbols so there must be some particular appeal to the pentagrams, et al.  If this wasn’t about religion per se then what was the attraction?

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If what I’ve read on the subject is correct then despite appearances to the contrary, it not actually about worshiping a supernatural being but rather the ideals they see represented by the character of Satan.  Nergal summarized it pretty well in an interview with the Guardian “To me, Satan stands for everything that is dear to me. I’ve always been very fond of independence and autonomy and freethinking and freedom and intelligence. Satan has always been a very strong symbol of all those values, so for me it’s very natural to take his side.”

Assuming that the majority of fans echo his views this means that in essence it was really all about rebellion.  All the inverted crosses and blasphemy had much more to do with the adolescent rush one gets from pissing off the establishment and giving the finger to the family, school, boss, church or culture that has frustrated you and left you feeling alienated than it did with actually worshiping Satan.

That is a sentiment I certainly understand.  Getting into music in order to freak out your parents…check.   Creating a scary persona to intimidate your classmates… check. Indulging in everything dark and brooding in order to convince yourself that you are deep and profound… check. Been there, done that, still have the tattered t-shirts.

Of course recognizing this doesn’t leave me entirely at ease .  There are still some fundamental philosophical divides that merit further exploration. And doutbless there are some for whom all this is not merely a gesture but a reflection of deeply held beliefs that are in complete opposition to my own.  Yet understanding that for most the pentagrams were largely symbolic allowed me to sit through the entire show and find something to appreciate in the sounds, theatre and above all in the energy of the crowd below.  Click here to read a review of this show and see way better pictures than I took.

I’ll be writing more on this soon.  Until then I’d really like to hear your thoughts.

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Introducing Team Eve!

We’re just two weeks out from the Biblical Brew Off. Team Moses and Team Jesus are all tied up going into this third year of competition. Just when things seemed set for the showdown a wildcard appeared.  Both Rodeph Shalom and St Tim’s count many women among the beer geeks at our congregations.  No longer content to leave the brewing to the guys, they joined forces to form Team Eve.

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In early April, under the expert guidance of Nancy Rigberg, they gathered at St. Tim’s to brew a saison, the name of which is so secret that even yours truly doesn’t know it yet.

TEAM EVE

 

Not only will their presence liven up the competition, it is fully in keeping with the ancient tradition that brewing was solely a feminine art.  Even today among some of the indigenous peoples, it is women along who brew the chicha since it is common knowledge even allowing a man to walk into the brew house will spoil the beer.

A big thank you to Nancy for her expertise and to Brian Biggs for creating the logo.

The only way to taste their beer is to join us at the Brew Off on May 7th at Rodeph Shalom.  Advance tickets are just $25 ($35 at the door).  Click here to get yours now!

SUSAN stirring the wort Removing Flavors NANCY LAUREL combining flavors JESSICA stirring in malt JEANNE cooling